Accessibility links

Weah Supporters Hope To Clean Up Liberia


In Liberia, supporters of the frontrunner in Tuesday's runoff election for president, former soccer star George Weah, have held a symbolic cleaning-up day to get rid of corrupt politicians, as well as to actually make their impoverished and shattered nation a cleaner place.

Saturday started with Mr. Weah's supporters fighting for free campaign tee-shirts at the headquarters of the newly formed Congress for Democratic Change.

Some of them were then taken in pick-up trucks loaded with brooms, wheelbarrows and shovels to poor areas of Monrovia to clean up the city's filthy streets.

One of those in charge of this so-called clean-up day was Justina, who believes Mr. Weah will have more practical sense as president than any of his highly educated but failed predecessors.

"It's not about how many degrees you have, it's about cleaning your facility, cleaning your area and this cleaning is about going to communities, ok, helping to clean," said Justina. "We want to start in the city, we want to start now in

the Monrovia city, then we can go to the rural areas. We want to make it so Liberia will be clean. It's not only today, this is just the beginning of it. [When] Ambassador Weah gets to the executive mansion, we're going to form a youth group [that is] going to be fully responsible to clean the streets every day and every night."

She also dismisses reports that the election will be a battle of the sexes, even though many female political leaders are supporting Mr. Weah's second round opponent, the Harvard-educated former finance minister Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

"This election is not about women standing against men," she said. "No, we have women along George Weah's side, and I can tell you we have more young women that support George Manneh Weah. We want a leader that can come down to us and help us, it's not about degrees, because all the diploma holders that failed us, they took us nowhere."

Mr. Weah spent a lot of time in the interior of the country between the first and second rounds of the election, but he is now back in Monrovia, in time for the voting on Tuesday.

In Lofa County, which was once under rebel control, he received big crowds and cheers.

In his speeches outside the capital, the former soccer great struck a populist chord, vowing that he will be different from failed politicians of the past.

"I'm a true example to the Liberian society. When they were were destroying our villages, I was on the fields, trying to rebuild our image," said George Weah. "When they were running to America to live in their apartments, I came back home, I made it my home here. You can see that I'm losing my voice. I'm losing my voice to give you voice."

Mr. Weah has also benefited from running the only television station in Liberia, Clar TV, named after his wife.

In the run-up to Tuesday's vote, Clar TV has been conducting an endless advertising campaign for Mr. Weah. One item shows a man who keeps on cleaning his hands with soap and water from a faucet, but a caption then explains, some hands are so dirty they can never get clean. Vote for George Weah.

Most Liberians who lack running water are hoping they will one day be able to clean their hands easily, as well as get electricity, working roads, schools and hospitals.

Mr. Weah's opponent, Mrs. Sirleaf, was campaigning in the southeast Saturday and will return to Monrovia for what her campaign team is calling a final musical jamboree on Sunday.

XS
SM
MD
LG